From the Horse’s mouth: As I sang along to the Rwanda anthem, I felt tears in my eyes (Part 3)

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DoveIt was the night of April 6th, Lisa Bwalya continues telling the story from Part 2. I was studying in my bedroom around 20:30 o’clock in the night when I heard a loud explosion outside. I went to the living room where dad was with a friend and I caught them say the explosion could have come from the UN peace keepers’ site. I went back to my room. But I couldn’t study.

There followed sounds of heavy gunfire outside from everywhere. There was screaming and shouting. It lasted the whole night. I thought the rebel force had arrived in Kigali and was battling government forces. But something didn’t add up. We all knew that the rebels were too far away from the capital and besides there was a peace treaty being monitored by the UN.

The following morning dad told me that President Habyarimana had been killed and his soldiers had run amok, hence the gun fire of last night. But that there was no coup and the Prime Minister Madame Agathe would address the nation on radio. We waited for the address from 7 to 10 o’clock until we were informed that she too had been killed an hour ago together with her husband.

Dad suggested that we stock food for a week until the killings stopped, a woman and her child came to our gate sobbing and begged dad to allow her inside. She said people with weapons were killing everybody in the neighborhood. She said they were on their way to our area. Dad got out of the car and opened the gate for the woman. He told her to hide in the gardens behind until we returned.

Just a moment later as we were joining the main road, we saw youths with pangas and axes in the middle of the road. We could see one car burning beside them and some people lying on the road in blood. We reached the road block and the youths stopped us, checked our IDs and allowed us through. We saw people being hacked, running and screaming in horror and the sound of gun fire. I was completely shaken.

The shops were looted, some were in flames and we had to return home with nothing. There was commotion all over and widespread breakdown of law and order. We reached the gate and this time we found soldiers as well as party youths knocking loudly. My dad showed them his Zambian I’d and his UN card. Then the leader of the group asked if there were any “inyenzi” in our house. He shook his head and said no. They left while singing party songs.

After securing the gate, dad and I went to the gardens where we found the woman with her child still sobbing. She told us that her name was Sabrine. She also explained that her neighbors had attacked her house with pangas and burned everything down before killing her husband in cold blood. I was totally bewildered. The child was crying. I took him from his mother, around four years old and put him on my laps. We took them with us in the house and they hid in the ceiling that night.

I also remember that dad drunk the whole bottle of whiskey while praying. That day the radio kept inciting the population to eliminate their work mate, neighbor, church mate, drinking mate etc as long as they were of the targeted tribe. Music would be punctuated by hate messages as chaos reigned outside.

Where people found this extreme hate within themselves I never understood. Whatever was driving this madness, this apocalypse seemed to be outside normal human feeling. I later learned that within two days, over 10,000 people had been senselessly murdered. Innocent and mostly law abiding citizens, non partisan. Defenseless and morally upright people. Children and babies. All because of having been born in a certain tribe. And the hate being perpetrated by politicians and their media.

Sabrine hid in our house for six days. She became my sister. I started teaching her English and Nyanja in order to “Zambianise” her. If you still want to listen, I can share one last bit before I travel to Rwanda next week. I will return home immediately after the commemoration ceremony of the genocide. The last bit will be longer than this one.


10 Responses to From the Horse’s mouth: As I sang along to the Rwanda anthem, I felt tears in my eyes (Part 3)

  1. This is a good lesson to us as zambians look how we have align ourselves to tribal of our regions. Political parties from regoins God help us.

    April 3, 2015 at 7:52 pm

  2. Continue telling the story Lisa. Fello Zambians let’s learn from the Rwanda experience.

    Cactus Flower
    April 3, 2015 at 8:36 pm

  3. Wow please keep them coming…this is a very.touching story that I always want to learn more about what really happened.

    ba mwine
    April 3, 2015 at 9:41 pm

  4. Thank you Lisa very insightful for us

    The Business
    April 4, 2015 at 8:24 am

  5. This is a very great story. When you read such experiences from other countries that is when you realise how blessed we are to have all the peace and love we enjoy,let’s continue to love each other. One Zambia one nation!!

    Jonathan Njobvu
    April 4, 2015 at 8:28 am

  6. Well that story is what I want to hear NOT HH’s negative mentality can you carry on

    April 4, 2015 at 9:29 am

    • What has HH got to do with this?

      conrad chanda
      April 4, 2015 at 3:35 pm

  7. Let us not bring tribalism in Zambian, that’s how Rwanda genocide started

    chali chisala
    April 5, 2015 at 5:11 pm

  8. Bloggers, let us not mention any political party leader as a perpetrator of tribalism. Tribalism in Zambia is being propagated by all the politicians for selfish reasons.
    Good article from Lisa. I had an opportunity of interracting with a Rwandese who was my class mate at a university in Tanzania and he explained to me all about the genocide. He actually survived because he run to Tanzania as a refuge, where he stayed for nearly 5 years before returning home only to discover that he was the only surviving person from a farmily of eigth, can you imagine!!. Country men, let us continue loving one another.

    April 5, 2015 at 5:13 pm

  9. This is really a touching story. Our friends went through hard times. Let Zambians learn a leaf from this.

    Arthur Manda
    April 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm

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